Category Archives: Restaurants

Butter is Better

You just need to know how Margarine was created and you will never eat it again


Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (nephew and heir of Napoleon I) or simply Emperor Napoleon III of France offered a prize to anyone who could make a satisfactory alternative for butter. The goal was to manufacture something that’s suitable for long military campaigns. However, margarine originated when the French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered margaric acid, in 1813. French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès later invented a substance he called oleomargarine, which achieved little commercial success. In 1871, he sold the patent to the Dutch company Jurgens, now part of Unilever and the rest is history.

As you probably figured out, margarine is no different than plastic or any other product invented by humans in a laboratory.

Margarine contains two different types of fat: the fat from the vegetable oil and the forms of fat created during manufacturing.  The vegetable oils are exposed to chemicals, additives, heat, emulsifiers and God knows what else.  Each stage in the manufacturing process creates several unwanted by-products.

To sum it up, margarine contains trans fats which:

  • Increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Lead to unbalanced levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats – more susceptible to cell mutation which can lead to various health problems, cancer being one.
  • Decrease the body’s immune response.
  • Increase cholesterol – increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers the good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Increase triglyceride levels.
  • Lower breast milk quality.
  • Increase blood insulin levels – higher risk for diabetes.
  • Decrease fertility.

Margarine is at the top of the list when a low fat diet is prescribed, but remember that it was designed as a cheap substitute for butter – it was not designed to be either healthy or nutritious.

Unauthorized reproduction – Courtesy: Magazine

Copyright © 2015


Mardi Gras – Karneval or Fasching?

They are related to one another – not all the same – though all of their origins are European!


2015 Celebration:  February 12 – 18

The word Fasching dates back to the 13th century and is derived from the Germanic word vaschanc or vaschang, in modern German: Fastenschank = the last serving of alcoholic beverages before Lent. In olden times the 40-day Lenten period of fasting was strictly observed. People refrained from drinking alcohol or eating meat, milk products and eggs. The English word “fast” (to refrain from eating) is related to German fasten.

Fasching in Wiesbaden, Germany

Fasching in Wiesbaden, Germany

Karneval, on the other hand, is a newer, much more recent (17th century), Latin-based word borrowed from French and Italian. The true origin of the word is uncertain, but it probably comes from Latin carne levare (“away with meat”) >carnelevale > Karneval or Carnival. In earlier times, the German word was even written with a C rather than today’s K-spelling. (Some German carnival associations still use the Carneval spelling in their names.)

Fasching in Wiesbaden

Jedes Jahr wird auch in Wiesbaden die Fastnacht gefeiert. | © / Foto: Heiko Kubenka

The Carnevale in medieval Venice is one of the earliest documented carnival celebrations in the world. It featured still-popular traditions, including carnival parades, masks and masquerade balls. Gradually the Italian Carnevale customs spread north to other Catholic European countries, including France. From France it spread to the German Rhineland and, through colonization, even to North America (Mardi Gras).

Fasching Parade

Andreas Rentz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The third common term for carnival in German, Fastnacht, refers to the Swabian-Alemannic carnival, which differs in some ways from Fasching and Karneval, and is found in Baden-Württemberg, Franconia (northern Bavaria), Hessen (Wiesbaden/Frankfurt) and much of Switzerland. Although this word looks like it comes from the German for the “eve of Lent,” in fact it is based on the Old German word fasen (“to be foolish, silly, wild”). Thus the word, sometimes spelled Fasnacht (without the t) actually means something like “night of being wild and foolish.”

Just Who Are These CTA People?

Greater Grand Rapids Region


Why is this CTA Program important to me?  Here are a few reasons.  In simple terms – Certified Tourism Ambassadors are professionals in hospitality, hotels, restaurants, museums, arenas, concert halls and at large scale public events both business/commercial and volunteer-based.  They also include public sector agencies and civic concerns that include both charitable agencies and governmental organizations as well as Police, Fire, and public service and transport.  That covers the library, the bus, the Secretary of State and the ambulance drivers, too!   You won’t just find them at the airport handing out tour guides………….

You Can Be The Face of Grand Rapids, too!!


Contact Lisa Verhil, Grand Rapids Greater Area CTA Administrator and Welcome Wizard

Phone 616.233.3578

Or go the the website at:


The Muslim Conundrum – Pass the Ketchup, Please

Remember when you were young?  You were always suspicious of the “new Kids” on the block and you often went to great lengths not to interact with them.

For years…….

There is a growing phenomenon in the greater Muslim world that Western societies are largely “Islamophobic.”  Ex-patriots from the Middle East and from Africa who now settle in traditional American cities are complaining that they don’t feel “welcome” and that they do not get equitable, fair treatment and the same civil privilege as the general populace.  They seem to believe that we “owe” them something by extending a greater amount of understanding.

Is it possible that these Muslim people coming into a well formed society in the West are expecting a bit too much?  I know when I visited Turkey I was welcomed with open-arms.  But I did not try to “convert” local customs and traditions to my own familiar ways.  I did not expect the laws of the land to “pardon” my indiscretions and misunderstandings of local religion and tradition and allow outright civil “misbehavior.”

Update I:  Muslims are not exactly Helping Their Own Cause
Update II:  Islamic Supremacy: Raping White Women for ‘Allah’
Update III:  Muslims Threaten Campus Shutdown in Ann Arbor
Update IV:  Record Number of Muslims Deported in Norway – Crime Drops

The truth is I embraced the change and adapted to it.  I was not disappointed that they did not have my favorite tomato juice on the shelves – I took what was available and learned to like it.   Turn the situation around and compare to what is actually happening here in America – I was not “demanding” that they take pork off of the local sub-shop menu and insisting (by way of protest) that new and more expensive Halal1 meats be substituted or outright required to be sold or threaten closure of an established business.


TGIFriday’s now serves Bacon-Encrusted Ribs.  Ka-Boom!

Am I insensitive?  Am I Islamophobic and socially un-fit?  No!!  I have always appreciated the differences and even went so far as to “sample” the new cultural flavors – and several I actually enjoyed.  I’m talking lamb stuffed grape leaves, baklava, the Aremenian vegetable guess-what-that-was and some of the other raw veal and “see-food” items.

What a Difference a Few Decades Makes

Then you reach adulthood. You work for a few decades and then decide to open up shop because you are tired of working for “the man.”  You open a new business which caters to tradition (as you know it) and all of a sudden you get hit with “new” regulations that tell you that you can’t do things in the manner you have been accustomed to for the past 50 years and you have to be “more sensitive” to people.  Things like learning their language and respecting their ways and if you don’t – you are in trouble with the law.

Wait a minute.  I did not ask you to come here.  I’ll help you learn how to be comfortable living in MY surroundings.  But be forewarned – I’m not going to change just because you may have to extend your effort and adapt to the American way.  And by the way – get registered as a legal alien and I’ll even respect your right to vote.

Please pass the Ketchup.  And would you mind taking that off your head when you sit at MY table?  It is, after all, allowed in the Qur’an.2

**Addendum by Author, Tom Urich:  “I am not attempting to pass judgement nor promoting racist phobia one way or the other as much as I am illustrating that adaptation to a new culture and a new homeland should include a modicum of tolerance.”  There are extremes, however, that occur every day which can lead us to anger and hatred.3

1 Reference:

2 Reference:

3 Reference:

One Day You’ll See Pepsi and Coke Together

Inside the mind the wheels are turning………….

Why can’t we all just get along?  I’ve allowed myself to wait to finish this posting a few weeks in order to mull over the ‘subject’ of the message here.    To hope and believe that everybody needs to think the same in order to cooperate and prosper is a ridiculous premise.  I mean – The opposite opinion is not necessarily a total disagreement.  Somewhere in the middle there are similarities and shared ideals on some things.  It is not all black and white.  Hope allows us to think that eventually we’ll somehow all get along.  Agreement.  Peace.

Keeping along those thought lines – in a market driven economy like we have in the USA – there is the desire to attract the largest body of support (the able purchasers) and to supply a fair and attractive image to a product or ideal or concept or platform that will carry the majority to some form of agreement on an issue.  Would you divorce your spouse because he/she preferred Coca-Cola over Pepsi?

There have been some articles written1 about the ‘levels of intelligence’ and associated political and social attitudes (or leanings) in what appear to be scholarly journals and the remarkable thing is that the one side who likes to think “Red” also generally rebukes Coca-Cola and their recent advertising Super Blunder in the Super Bowl advertising commercials.  But what happened?  In one expensive halftime commercial Coca-Cola did not incubate diversity as some have opined – they actually created extended polarization by making an unsustainable point.  That statement alone will provoke argument from the pseudo-intelligencia on one bank of the aisle.  But seriously – to forge an American English lyric and a melody word-for-word into another language does not represent true cohabitation between cultures.  It is fake.  It is pretentious.  It only makes sense to ONE body of viewers and that body is – you guessed it – Mr. & Mrs. Joe America.  Congratulations – you set yourself aside from nearly 80% of the world population and accomplished nothing but warm some advertising wallets and fannies.  It failed miserably.  The message came out wrong and it did not promote a popular concept or ideal.   Just the opposite.


Did you know the largest two competing International brands cooperated In a very popular drink concoction in the 50’s?  After World War II there were some political issues that prevented the unbridled distribution of Coke in the former Nazi Germany and the Coca-Cola company turned to making an orange drink to maintain their presence in the beverage market.  What developed was a compromise – Pepsi was not a replacement for the cola – the local pubs (kneipen) developed a very popular ‘alcohol free’ drink (the original zero beer) called a “Spezi”  (pronouncedc Speight-Zee) which was a blend of the Pepsi and the new Coca-Cola product called Fanta.

Then the popularity with the Germans cultivated an actual “brand” and the rest is history.

There is Hope.


Here is the Wikipedia page regarding this hypnotizing concoction:

1Ref.:  Psychology Today

2Ref/:  Psychology Today

Grand Rapids Midtown Planned Paczki Day Crawl Threatened by Snow Accumulation

This coming March 4th – Many sidewalks may fail to allow passage on Michigan Street, several others in Midtown Area


Hold onto those ideas about Fat Tuesday.  Or Fat Thursday if you are Polish.

The Paczki Day Crawl may not become a reality this year due to the extreme snow accumulations we have experienced in Grand Rapids so far this Winter.

M-Live Reports:  “The heavy January snowfall led to a crush of <City> complaints, with reports tripling from 293 in December to 941 in January.  Some of the properties had not been cleared at all this winter and were packed heavily with snow and ice.”,  Sidewalk Supervisor John Hayes said.

“You take that for granted that you can trudge through that (snow-covered sidewalk), but a person with physical challenges, children, we certainly don’t want those folks in the road,” First Ward City Commissioner Walt Gutowski said. “We want them to be able to walk on the sidewalks.”

Those “extra calories” you get from a heavily laden fried and cream filled doughnut may not be enough to allow you to walk successfully through the crawl.  We’ll keep you posted.

Comments?  Suggestions?  Please comment on this report below.

Dave Barry Deserves A Raise – Or at Least a Bowl of Kale

Generally you would not have any trouble whatsoever finding somebody that appreciates the humorous writings of the well-known syndicated Pulitzer prize winning Dave Barry.

Dave Barry dave-barry-website
Whether it’s smashing toilets or pumpkins you’ll find Dave there……………..
Actually, Dave Barry retired in 2005 from the daily grind (like myself – only with money) but he still writes an occasional column for the Miami Herald (A Knight Newspaper – my first employer) and somehow has not skipped a beat as it comes to making a ridiculous point out of the ridiculous.  Dave needs to get a raise in my opinion.  He is going to become my mentor whether he likes it or not.

Dave discusses “trends” that highlighted the year 2013 in a recent column:

“Were there any new trends in 2013? Yes, but they were not good. Kale, for example. Suddenly this year restaurants started putting kale into everything, even though it is an unappetizing form of plant life that until recently was used primarily for insulation. Even goats will not eat it. Goats, when presented with kale, are like, “No thanks, we’ll just chew on used seat cushions.””
Now that was not so snarky, was it?
Why can’t we write or talk or eschew the wondrous laments about our political opponents like that – with an obvious flair for the comedy but still grasping onto the tartar like a piece of dental floss – and not become so aggressive as to produce acid reflux and eventual ulcerations of the eyeballs??  Huh?
But I regress.  This subject wanders into the arena of the EGO and we all know what that means if we don’t agree 110% – somebody is going to get pissed off.

We Can Agree to Disagree Without Losing Any More Hair Jokes

A man was getting a haircut prior to a trip to Rome. He mentioned the trip to the barber who responded, “Rome? Why would anyone want to go there?”

“It’s crowded & dirty and full of Italians. You’re crazy to go to Rome.”

So, how are you getting there?”

“We’re taking TWA,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!”

“TWA?” exclaimed the barber. “That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they’re always late.  So, where are you staying in Rome?”

“We’ll be at the downtown International Marriott.”

“That dump! That’s the worst hotel in the city. The rooms are small, the service is surly and they’re overpriced. So, whatcha doing when you get there?”

“We’re going to go to see the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope.”

“That’s rich,” laughed the barber. “You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.”

A month later, the man again came in for his regular haircut. The barber asked him about his trip to Rome.

“It was wonderful,” explained the man, “not only were we on time in one of TWA’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a beautiful 28 year old stewardess who waited on me hand and foot.

And the hotel-it was great! They’d just finished a $25 million remodeling job and now it’s the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us the presidential suite at no extra charge!”

“Well,” muttered the barber, “I know you didn’t get to see the pope.”

“Actually, we were quite lucky, for as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the pope likes to personally meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait the pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later the pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down as he spoke a few words to me.”

“Really?” asked the Barber. “What’d he say?”

He said, “Where’d you get the lousy haircut?

See? You can be cute and funny and not hurt anybody’s feelings.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee Hints Seinfeld Reunion

George Costanza appears on Sony Web Show

Jason Alexander and Jerry seinfeld

Jason Alexander and Jerry Seinfeld visited Tom’s Restaurant in NYC to make a SB promo.  <Courtesy: Twitter>

During the Super Bowl: Jerry Seinfeld and his former co-star Jason Alexander (George Costanza) were featured in a vignette bickering in their old coffee shop in New York. Turns out it was a promotion for a six-minute episode of Crackle’s hit Comedians in Cars featuring Jerry and George taking a drive, in character.


The whole promo was just that – a promo.  The stunt was as much about promoting a stunt as the stunt itself.  Enjoy!